It was seven years in the making, but it's finally here. Avenged Sevenfold have released their long-awaited eighth studio album, Life Is but a Dream..., which we've deemed totally bonkers and totally brilliant.
Of course, Revolver had to link up with the Deathbat crew to get the full scoop on the genre-bending, mind-boggling opus. Below, are five exciting things we learned during our big interview with Avenged Sevenfold from an upcoming print issue.
1. At first, M. Shadows was worried the album wasn't weird enough
After spending four years writing and recording what M. Shadows wanted to be Avenged Sevenfold's biggest, boldest, most mind-blowing album yet, he started to wonder whether it actually got there. "Things start to become normal after you live with 'em for a while," Shadows told us.
"And we'd been working on the record for so long that I remember asking Brian [A7X lead guitarist Synyster Gates], 'Hey, do you think we went far enough on this thing? Because it's feeling very normal to me now.' And, he's like, 'No, we did.'" Still, Shadows remained skeptical of the album's true power to shock. Then, he heard the final versions of the record's last three songs.
2. Hearing the album's three-song finale was the first time Shadows was ever freaked out by Avenged Sevenfold music
Life Is but a Dream... concludes with a dazzling, three-song suite — "G," "(O)rdinary" and "(D)eath" — that just might be the most ambitious passage in A7X's whole catalog. The stubborn Shadows was still feeling underwhelmed by the record's genre-bending eclecticism until producer Andy Wallace handed him the final mixes of those three tracks.
"We wrote them as one song, but recorded them individually, so this was the first time we were actually able to put them together since the demo," Shadows recalled. "I was kind of sleepy and lying there, listening to it with the volume down, and then all of a sudden I almost had a heart attack. I was like, 'OK, this is weird.
"'This went from Steely Dan/Zappa to Stevie Wonder/Daft Punk to Wizard of Oz/Frank Sinatra real quick!' I'd never freaked myself out with my own music before. I called Brian and was like, 'Yeah, dude, we went far enough!'"
3. Avenged Sevenfold are done "regurgitating" themselves and their heroes
"It was just time for us to explore new territories, new approaches and new techniques," Gates explained. "Nobody in the band wanted to plug into an amplifier, turn it way up and write regurgitated Avenged riffs, regurgitated Pantera riffs, regurgitated Metallica riffs. Those days are done for us, but it doesn't mean it can't be guitar-centric.
"This is actually the most guitar-centric record we've ever done — everything other than the orchestral stuff, even the synth stuff, is guitars."
4. Shadows suffered the worst depression of his life after using the psychedelic drug 5-MeO-DMT
To help him fully live in the album's more existential lyrical themes, Shadows dabbled with the psychedelic drug 5-MeO-DMT — otherwise known as toad venom! The high was incredibly insightful and eye-opening, but the ego-destroying experience also sent him spiraling into a mental health crisis.
"The experience was the shift that I needed," he said. "But it also sent me into an existential crisis for about six to eight months, one that I wouldn't wish upon anyone. It was the deepest depression I've ever been in; I couldn't leave the house, couldn't go play sports, couldn't go to the gym, couldn't do anything."
5. The four longest-running band members still live within 10 minutes of each other
Avenged Sevenfold have been grinding at their band for over 20 years, and through that, they've achieved enormous amounts of success. Simply put, these guys are fortunate enough to where they could basically live wherever they want, but after all these years, Shadows, Gates, guitarist Zacky Vengeance and bassist Johnny Christ still live in Orange County where they all grew up — just a short walk from each other's houses.
"We hang out all the time," Christ told us. "Me and Zack and Brian and Matt, our houses are a 10-minute walk from each other. Our kids are all friends; they all get along. I know it'll sound cliché, but our family in Avenged Sevenfold comes before Avenged Sevenfold. Like, the band could end tomorrow, and we would still be best friends. After what we've been through together, what we've done, what we've accomplished, what we've failed at, there's nothing changing that bond."